Beach Walk Meditation 1 – God and Gender

I had just finished surfing and started thinking about God and gender as I was sitting in my chair and hydrating. I decided to take a walk down the beach and share my thoughts. In the past, I couldn’t do this with my iPhone because I walk with a limp. Then the video was so wobbly I couldn’t watch it. But with the GoPro Hero 7 hypersmooth setting the world stands steady. Of course my head still bobs up and down! Anyway, I’m interested to know what you think about the direction of my own thoughts about God and gender. I encourage you to comment on my YouTube channel and remind you to be kind to one another.

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Won’t You Be a Neighbor?

I am a racist. It is something I hate in myself. The only reason I’m not condemned to hell for it is because Jesus took that judgment on himself in my place. Every day, when by God’s grace, I grow closer to God, I become more like Jesus and less like a racist. Some call this growth or evolution. Theologians call it sanctification.

It is important that I state this because I am not intending to be messing with the sawdust in your eye while ignoring the timber in my own. (“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”~Matthew 7:3)

Of course we didn’t invent racism or prejudice. In fact, when Jesus wanted to make a point about the most fundamental principles of being a Christian, he did so using the racism of his earthly days.

In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus is asked which commandment is the greatest. As it turned out, there were two sides to the greatest commandment. The first was to love God and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself

So in Luke 10, when an “expert in the (Old Testament) law” said that the great commandment was the key to eternal life, Jesus said he was right! But then “he wanted to justify himself” so the expert in the law asked who his neighbor was. Jesus’ answer has been making the church squirm uncomfortably ever since.

The expert in the law was a Jew, in fact, a big shot among the Jews. Jews despised the Samaritans to their north dating to events in distant history. So, when Jesus uses a Samaritan as the hero of the story, the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan, do not doubt that he was launching a direct attack on the racism of his time.

A man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead by the side of the road. There were people who could hear his cries for help as he was taking his last breaths. (Am I being too subtle here?)

When a Jewish priest came along he crossed to the other side. When a Levite came along, he also crossed to the other side. The Samaritan, who addressed his physical need and financial desperation, was the example of a neighbor that Jesus used.

I had a preacher friend forward to me words purported to be those of the pro-golfer, Bubba Watson (according to a fact check, he didn’t say this). This is the beginning of what he said, “I’m so confused right now. I see signs all over saying black lives matter. I’m just trying to figure out which black lives matter. It can’t be the unborn black babies. They are destroyed without a second thought . . . “ and so on.

What would motivate someone to look for ways to muffle, if not silence, the sound of our black neighbors calling for help? I’m not talking about Bubba, I’m talking about those who share these words falsely attributed to Bubba.

It is obvious that all lives matter. So, when someone responds to “black lives matter” with the “what abouts”. What are we trying to do?

After my motorcycle accident, I remember being wheeled on a gurney into the hospital and hearing doctors debating whether they would need to amputate my leg and what the status of my injuries were. No one in the hospital jumped up and yelled, “But what about my leg!?”. Why? Because the medical professionals focused on the leg that needed triage.

The world is full of injustice, tragedy, and suffering. None of us are exempted and no one is arguing otherwise. But remember the powerful, respected expert in the law? “He wanted to justify himself.” He did not want to have to help the broken, poor, injured person from whom history said he should distance himself. He was looking for an excuse to cross over to the other side of the road.

“Black Lives Matter” is the cry of people in need. They suffer disproportionately from the pandemic. Their opportunities for education and employment have been relatively limited for many generations. They are more likely to be unemployed, stopped by police, incarcerated, and killed by police. Our nation’s history, and the western church’s history, is sullied by our attempts to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to our neighbor.

So, when someone responds to “black lives matter” with the “what abouts”. What are we trying to do? Are we looking for a reason to hate? For a reason to cross over to the comfortable and quiet side of the road? Or are we open to following Jesus?

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:36-37

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Kayaking From Bill Smith Park

Now that our house is built we can go back to doing the things that make island life worthwhile. Admittedly, the beach is the number one attraction for us. But we also enjoy quietly paddling around the neighborhood waterways.

In 2016, the town of Oak Island added a kayak launch to largest park, Bill Smith Park on Fish Factory Road. The waterway there is known both as Upper Dutchman’s Creek and Wildlife Creek. (I don’t know this for a fact, but I assume that before the Intracoastal Waterway cut through here Upper Dutchman’s Creek used to connect directly to Dutchman’s Creek. The park is a small way above the Wildlife Ramp which may be the thinking behind the alternate name.)

It is touted as being handicap accessible. The ramp is far steeper than allowed by the ADA – especially at low tide, but there is a nice overlook for a handicapped person to watch boaters on the water so maybe that is what they mean.

Fortunately, there is no footage of our major fail of the day. Bringing the kayak back up the ramp on a dolly the kick stand, though “up”, got caught on the ramp about two thirds of the way up requiring us to carry both the kayak and the dolly the rest of the way. It was a very hot day and I about fainted from the effort.

Overall, I’d give the facility good marks for use near high tide and below average for low tide. In the future, I plan to just go to the wildlife ramp when the tide is low and I want to paddle on that creek.

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Jesus Didn’t Fall for It. Why Should We?

It is heartbreaking to hear on the news that there are pastors who will encourage their parishioners to risk death in order to attend Easter services.

In Matthew 4:5-7 Jesus was tempted in the wilderness to risk death to prove his faith. The devil even quoted scripture to make it sound spiritual.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says that by loving God and loving our neighbor we satisfy all the requirements of the Bible. Paul says, in Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

If you get within 6 feet of someone or attend a large gathering, you are giving in to one of the first temptations of Jesus (and literally doing the devil’s work as described above). The only reason any church staff person would encourage you to endanger yourself and others is so that they can make money off of you. Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple in Jerusalem. Think for a moment about who is chasing you to go in there and why.

There. I got that off my chest.

Have a blessed Easter at home with your loved ones. The God of love, who died to conquer death and its power, be with us all until we meet again.

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For Those Tears I Died

Fifty years ago churches had just begun to open their worship experiences to allow young people to express their faith through “folk hymns”. This is a song from that era. As you listen to it, imagine long-haired kids sitting cross-legged on the floor and swaying back and forth as they sing along.

I went out on the porch to sing this morning and thought I’d bring you along. Hopefully, you won’t find the neighbor’s lawn equipment or the plane flying over too distracting. I wanted to “keep it real”. What song are you singing today?

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